Billie Holiday Festival

My affection for Baltimore waxes and wanes on a daily basis. However, when I heard that there was to be a Billie Holiday Festival this weekend, my heart swelled with pride for my adopted home. The Facebook page said there would be live music, vendors, food, children’s games and more. I of course had my own ideas of what this event would be like…fantastic jazz music, maybe a dance floor or even professional dancers offering lessons. Great street food (we do have some amazing food trucks in Baltimore), local vendors selling jazz related/Billie Holiday items, or maybe even some vendors selling vintage items and people on hand to talk about her time here in Baltimore and the history of her career. And last but not least fabulously attired patrons.

Well, once again Baltimore broke my heart. It was 2 blocks of random vendors including at least three booths for city council candidates, one booth which  looked like a yard sale, a few artists selling their wares, (maybe) two food vendors – hot dogs and ice cream – and a hardware store.

The only people there that I was pleased to see were two animal rescue groups (I am biased as I am a foster for one of these). There were several dogs which is always fun and NO ONE was dressed well….except for myself, my husband and my friend Bowtie Bob that we ran into.

Very rarely do I actually FEEL overdressed for an occasion, even if I am. But I actually felt it today. I felt as though people were looking at me as if I was in costume. I specifically wore a 1940s style dress and shoes and a white flower in my hair in honor of the lovely Billie herself. I didn’t see anyone enthusiastic about the theme of the festival as it was honoring such a wonderful jazz icon.

There were two shining points in this event, however. There was jazz music – as promised – and the band and singer were really great. The other fantastic thing was the beautiful artwork down Durham Street (the street the Billie lived). The artists who have created these amazing murals and painted screens are truly talented and have made this little alley a beautiful homage to Lady Day.

I can only hope that this festival gets better each year (I believe that this was the first year).

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